3 Color Experiments that Blend Science & Art

Most kiddos have a hunger for all things scientific. They want to take everything apart to learn how things work. They ask a million why and how questions on a daily basis. Superficial knowledge about an intriguing topic simply is not enough.

But every child is different. They all have interests, gifts and talents that make them unique. Some couldn’t care less about why the sky is blue and wonder instead how they can mix colors from their tiny paint sets to replicate that exact shade.

In our world, where researchers, developers, and programmers make new discoveries and technological advances on a daily basis, it’s more crucial than ever that our kids aren’t just learning, but are immersed in a science education.

Fostering an interest in science helps children develop patience and perseverance. It encourages them to become self-motivated learners. Kids who enjoy science will have a healthy level of skepticism and seek to prove (or disprove) things for themselves. They are likely to believe that they really can change the world, as well.

The STEM movement, which focuses on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, encourages this type of education. However, there have been recent efforts to transition from STEM-based learning to STEAM-based education, which adds the arts into the mix. Not only does this make it more inclusive for children who are less scientifically or technologically adept, but it can also open new worlds for kiddos who may be less likely to pick up a paintbrush or musical instrument.

One way to get your kids enthusiastic about science and art is to find ways to bring them together. Check out these at-home science experiments you can try out with your own bunch that combine color and scientific concepts in exciting and engaging ways:

Marbled Milk Paper

Paper marbling is an art that has been practiced for centuries. Artists in Japan, Turkey, and Persia swirled delicate designs onto paper using inks and paints nearly one thousand years ago. The European artisans who took up the art in the 1700s were highly secretive about their techniques, not willing to share their methods with others.

Now, even elementary school aged children can design original, colorful swirls and unique, stone-like patterns on paper in their very own kitchens using items you probably already have at home. Ana at Babble Dabble Do shows you how in this tutorial.

All you need to make marbled paper is food coloring, dish soap and milk. Milk consists of so many different types of molecules, such as protein, sugars and fat. Introducing dish soap to the milk lowers the surface tension, making it easier for the food dye to move around. Just as soap removes grease from dishes, it affects the fat in the milk, causing a fascinating swirly outcome.

You can take this art/science experiment to another level by trying different types of milk, such as skim and full fat (Ana used almond milk when she tried it!).

Chromatography Butterfly Craft

You’ve probably done a chromatography experiment before. In fact, it may have been a less-than-pleasant experience. Remember the time you had an important, graph-laden report for work sitting on the table and your five-year-old knocked over a vase, dousing your printouts in the process? (No? Did that only happen to me? Well, you get the idea.) As the water spread through the paper, the ink crept across the pages.

Chelsey Marashian of Buggy and Buddy shares a fun DIY project that lets kids turn chromatography in to distinctive paper butterflies with coffee filters, markers, and a few other basics. The science behind chromatography is simple. As the liquid (in this case, water) moves past the ink, the two substances exchange some molecules. This is called adsorption (not to be confused with absorption).

You can perform further experiments by comparing how different types of markers spread or using different liquids to cause the reaction.

Walking Water

We all know that water can run, but can it walk? Well, not exactly, but it can travel from one receptacle to another if there is something available to help it along.

Jules at The Weekend Housewife shares her version of this colorful science experiment in this post. After filling two small glasses with colored water (a different color in each glass), she set an empty glass between the two. Then, she placed a paper towel from each filled glass into the empty glass, into which some of the liquid gradually “walked,” making a new color.

A process called capillary action enables liquid to flow in narrow spaces against gravity. Much the way that water travels up the roots of plants, the liquid flows through tiny gaps in the fibers of the paper towels. Play around with this experiment making different color combinations or creating a rainbow circle by placing six glasses in a circle, filling every other glass with red-, blue- and yellow-tinted water.

Bringing art and science together can show kids the beauty and enjoyment found in both subjects. Whether they are simple or more complex, experiments such as these will have your kiddos begging to learn even more.

What are some of your favorite science experiments for kids? Share your ideas with us!

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